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Olympus WS-801

2GB digital voice recorder with expandable memory

Item # 279WS801

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Our take on the Olympus WS-801

With the Olympus WS-801 digital voice recorder, you can record classroom lectures, business meetings, personal reminders and more in a variety of settings. Two built-in directional condenser mics, with a noise cancellation option, can capture sound under less than ideal conditions.

With the Olympus WS-801 digital voice recorder, you can record classroom lectures, business meetings, personal reminders and more in a variety of settings. Two built-in directional condenser mics, with a noise cancellation option, can capture sound under less than ideal conditions.

Olympus WS-801 digital voice recorder

The recorder's retractable USB plug means you don't have to keep track of a separate charging cable.

Expandable memory and easy connection

The recorder has 2GB of built-in memory, enough for 514 hours of basic-quality recordings. But if you need more, just insert a microSD card into the player and keep recording. And transfer is simple. The WS-801 has its own retractable USB connector, so you don't have to fuss with separate cables. Just plug the recorder directly into your computer.

Simple recording

The voice-activation mode lets you make convenient, hands-free recordings. Simply select what you want to record, such as lectures, music, or personal memos, and Scene Select automatically adjusts the recording levels for you. Choose either MP3 mode for maximum recording time, or WMA mode for improved sound quality.

Playback options

Use the built-in speaker for playback, or plug in your headphones for more discreet listening. The recorder can deliver up to 27 hours of operation with the supplied “AAA” battery.

Product Highlights:

  • built-in stereo directional condenser microphones
  • 2GB embedded memory
  • records to MP3 or WMA audio files
  • built-in recording functions:
    • voice activation start and stop
    • bookmark sections of a track during recording or playback
    • noise cancellation minimizes background sounds
  • expandable microSD card slot (memory card not included)
  • LCD display
  • built-in mono speaker
  • Scene Select automatically sets levels based on activity (notes, music, lecture, etc.)
  • high-speed USB interface with retractable connector
  • minijack headphone output
  • stereo minijack input for an optional external microphone
  • up to 27 hours of operation with "AAA" battery (included)
  • 1-5/8"W x 4"H x 5//8"D
  • warranty: 2 years
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee

What's in the Box:

  • Portable digital recorder
  • 1 "AAA" alkaline battery
  • Basic Manual
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Warranty/Online registration card
  • VoiceBase promo sheet

Hands-on research

Product Research

General Features
Recording Features
Edit and Playback Functions

General Features

Overview: The Olympus WS-801 is a compact, easy-to-use, hand-held portable digital voice recorder. In addition to voice recording, you can transfer MP3 and WMA music files from a computer for playback. The recorder has a built-in 2 GB flash memory for hours of recording time. It has a built-in, stereo microphone, a 18mm diameter mono speaker, and jacks for an external microphone and headphones. The WS-801 operates on a single "AAA" alkaline battery (supplied) or an optional "AAA" Ni-MH rechargeable battery.

LCD Display: The WS-801 features a 15/16" square, backlit, monochrome LCD display which indicates recording and playback information. The recorder will display the elapsed or remaining recording time in hours, minutes, and seconds. When not recording, the current time can be displayed. You can set the display contrast to one of 12 levels.

Date and Time: The recorder features a built-in clock. If you have set the time and date, information as to when a sound file was recorded is stored automatically with that file.

Built-in Microphone: The unit features two built-in directional condenser microphones on the top of the recorder. You can set the recording level to High, Middle, or Low. In addition to the built-in microphones, the recorder also has a 3.5mm external microphone input.

Built-In 2 GB Flash Memory: The WS-801 Digital Voice Recorder features a built-in 2 GB flash memory which can hold hours of audio or voice memos. The unit has 5 pre-programmed folders, with up to 200 files per folder.

Memory Card Slot: In addition to the 2 GB built-in memory, the WS-801 has a memory card expansion slot for more recording capacity. The slot will accept microSD (and microSDHC) memory cards up to 32 GB.

USB Port: The WS-801 has a retractable Type A USB plug at the bottom to let you plug the unit directly into your computer for transferring files or charging (if you are using the rechargeable battery). The unit is Hi-speed USB 2.0-compatible, and can work with the following Operating Systems: Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, and Mac OS X (v10.4.11-v10.7).

Power Requirements: The recorder is powered by a single "AAA"-sized alkaline battery (included). See the chart below for battery life information during recording. During playback, the battery provides up to 24 hours using the built-in speaker, or up to 30 hours using earphones. You can switch the alkaline battery for an optional Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) rechargeable battery, which will provide up to 20 hours (speaker) to 22 hours (earphones).

Recording Features

Recording Format: The WS-801 records audio files in MP3 or WMA formats in seven recording modes at bit rates of 128 kbps and 192 kbps for MP3, or 8 to 128 kbps for WMA. You can record in stereo or mono, depending upon the recording mode. When recording with the built-in microphone, a stereo recording will have the same audio recorded to both channels. Lower bit rates provide longer recording times while higher bit rates offer better quality recordings. The selectable recording modes are as follows:

Recording ModeFrequency ResponseMaximum Recording Time
Built-in 2 GB Memory
Battery Life (Alkaline/NiMH)
MP3 192 kbps40 Hz - 19 kHz22 hours22 hrs/18 hrs
MP3 128 kbps40 Hz - 17 kHz33 hrs 30 min---
WMA 128 kbps40 Hz - 19 kHz32 hrs 30 min21 hrs/17 hrs
WMA 64 kbps40 Hz - 16 kHz65 hrs 30 min---
WMA 32 kbps
40 Hz - 13 kHz131 hours---
WMA 16 kbps
40 Hz - 8 kHz258 hours---
WMA 8 kbps
40 Hz - 3 kHz514 hours27 hrs/22 hrs
Note: The maximum capacity for a single file is limited to approximately 4 GB for MP3 and WMA.

Low Cut Filter: The WS-801 has a Low Cut Filter to minimize low frequency sounds. This helps make voice recording clearer, especially in windy conditions.

Recording Scenes: A recording setting can be set to one of four templates to suit the recording scene or situation, or you can register a specific setting and save it for later use. The available Recording Scenes include:

  • Lecture: Suitable for lectures with a large number of people
  • Conference: Suitable for seminars with a small number of people
  • Meeting: Suitable for recording a meeting
  • Dictation: Suitable for personal dictation
  • DNS: Suitable for voice recognition software (see more below)
  • User Setting 1, 2, or 3: Recording with a user-saved setting.

DNS Scene: The DNS recording scene lets you record spoken audio that you will later transcribe. DNS makes the audio suitable to use with optional Dragon NaturallySpeaking software, which uses speech-to-text technology to transcribe spoken words into a text document.

VCVA Function: You can set the WS-801 to automatically start recording when is picks up sound and shut off when the sound stops. The Variable Control Voice Actuator (VCVA) lets you adjust the volume level threshold for starting and stopping recording. The VCVA level can be set to any of 15 different values.

Music Files: The recorder can play MP3 (bit rates of 8-320 kbps) and WMA (5-320 kbps) music files transferred from a computer. Voice files and music files are separated into different folders. Music files are organized and saved in a branching tree. Up to 128 Music folders can be created, and up to 500 songs (128 kbps, 4 minutes) can be stored.

Edit and Playback Functions

Playback Formats: The WS-801 can playback MP3 and WMA format files with bit rates of 8-320 kbps for MP3 and 5-320 kbps for WMA.

Playback Speed: You can adjust the playback speed as you desire; slowing it down to review spots you couldn't understand, or speeding it up to listen to meeting content at a faster speed. You can choose from Normal Playback (x1.0 Play), Slow Playback (x0.5 to x0.9), or Fast Playback (x1.1 to x2.0). Some features, such as setting index marks, are not available during Slow or Fast Playback.

Skip Space: The Skip Space function lets you skip forward or backward during playback. This is handy for quickly skipping to another playback position or repeatedly playing back short phrases. You can choose Forward Skip (file, 10 sec, 30 sec, 1 min, 5 min, or 10 min) or Reverse Skip (file, 1 sec, 5 sec, 10 sec, 30 sec, 1 min, 5 min, or 10 min).

Index and Temp Marks: Setting an index mark or a temp mark lets you quickly find a location you want to listen to while fast forwarding or fast rewinding. Index marks cannot be placed on files created on machines other than this recorder, but temp marks can be placed instead to temporarily remember desired locations. Up to 99 index and temp marks can be placed on a single file.

Segment Repeat: The Segment Repeat function, also known as A-B Repeat, enables you to repeat playback of part of a particular file. You can place marks at the beginning and the ending of a recorded passage for repeated playback. This constant repetition feature can be used for language learning.

Voice Filter: In addition, the recording has a Voice Filter to cut low and high frequency tones during normal, fast, or slow playback, and enable clear audio playback.

Erase: You can erase your recorded messages one by one, or all messages in a folder at one time.

Divide: In the stop mode, you can divide a file into two parts, with the new file number being added to the newer part of the divided file. Only MP3 files recorded on this unit may be divided.

Protect Files: To prevent a file from being accidentally erased or edited, you can protect an important file. When a file is protected, it is regarded as a read-only file. Protection can be released, if desired.

Calendar Search: You can easily search for recordings by date. A calendar is displayed, indicating the dates when recordings were made.

Hold Function: The WS-801 has a Hold function that will lock the buttons to prevent accidental operations. The Hold function is activated by sliding the power switch to the left.

Our Product Research Team

At Crutchfield, you'll get detailed, accurate information that's hard to find elsewhere. That's because we have our own in-house Product Research team. They verify what’s in the box, check the owner's manual, and record dimensions, features and specs. We stay on top of new products and technologies to help people make informed choices.